1. Review of Kurdish Music Literature


This part is a brief summary of literature on Kurdish music. I have not discussed some aspects, namely the literature about Kurdish music in different countries and in different languages like Arabic, Armenian and so forth, because the main resources used for this study are either in Turkish or in English. Most of the scholarly works have focused on Kurdish history and the Kurdish language, (such as Van Bruinessen 1992 and Hassanpour 1992), and it is difficult to find comprehensive monographs on Kurdish music, at least in English and Turkish. We have either collections of articles on Kurdish music (such as Bayrak 2002, Nezan & Mutlu 1996), or ethnomusicological articles on specific issues and encyclopedia entries on Kurds and Kurdish music. I should mention that many academic studies were aimed at proving that there is a Kurdish nation and language that is distinct from the Turkish, Persian, or Arabic cultures, because the governments of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq have been insisting on the denial of Kurdish identity and language. The greater portion of the literature on Kurdish music in Turkey is based on this effort proving the existence of a distinct Kurdish musical culture, or the presence of different sets of musical cultures in Turkey.


Kürt Müziği , Dansları ve Şarkıları (Kurdish Music, Dances and Songs) is a collection of articles on Kurdish music in different times, edited by Mehmet Bayrak. Another important collection of articles on Kurdish music published in Turkey is Kürt Müziği (Kurdish Music) published by Avesta publishing house. The book contains six articles, two of them folkloric, two of them ethnographic, and two encyclopedia articles. At the end of the book there is a reprint of Komitas’ transcriptions of Kurdish melodies published in 1903. Both books contain some repetition and some variations especially in naming of the instruments, genres, styles, and so on, because the different geographic locations of traditional Kurdish homelands have been the center of the different urbanizations of humanity, and because of the different mixture of the musical cultures around Kurds. If it is accepted that there is an ongoing “nation construction” process for Kurds, the lack of a general consensus as to terms, definitions and names became more understandable. Though huge differences in the daily attitudes of Kurds living in different regions make it difficult to reach general conclusions about Kurdish music, there are lots of articles generalizing the aspects of Kurdish music in both Kürt Müziğiand Kürt Müziği, Dansları ve Şarkıları. Therefore, besides the need for detailed ethnographic fieldwork in every part of Kurdistan, a consensus in scientific perspectives and methodological approaches for Kurdish music scholarship will shed light for the future studies.

Forward | Main page